Saturday, November 29, 2003

Election Sets Back Accord in N. Ireland: "When a journalist for Ulster Television asked if he would speak to Sinn Fein after the election, [Ian] Paisley grabbed the reporter by the collar with both hands and bellowed: 'Do I need to repeat it? Do I need to take you by the neck and say no, I'm not, I'm not talking to Sinn Fein and my party's not talking to Sinn Fein, and anybody that talks to Sinn Fein will be out of my party?' "

Feisty guy for a 77-year-old.
EU ministers lock horns over new constitution.

Run down: Two weeks to go. No mention of Christianity, God, or religion in the preamble. Britain, France and Germany OK military planning facility independent of NATO; Belgium foreign minister says independent, integrated European defense is "an irreversible process."

But Poland/Spain aren't backing down from their insistence on the increased voting power given them in the Nice Treaty. Italy, as current six-month president of the Union (a stupid arrangment that the new constitution will hopefully change), wants desparately to finish this thing in December so they can get credit and call it the second "Treaty of Rome." So Italy's leading the charge for a compromise change to Nice that will satsify everybody. It's a question of who's going to blink first.

(A change to Nice would mainly benefit France, I believe, so that would mean Italy is being the mercenary foot soldier of France. How's that feel, I wonder? I'd also be interested in what the Germans are thinking with this. The new voting arrangement would help them, too.)

My humble prediction: Italy will back down and the Nice voting will stay, which is probably a good thing, as the pre-Nice arrangement (according to my very simple understanding) was arbitrary and unfair. France and Germany haven't helped themselves with the stability pact shenanigans; neither has Italy, as they brokered that weasly deal, too. (Poland's foreign minister: "What happened in Ecofin on the Stability Pact confirms that the voting system is of crucial importance.")

Barring that outcome, probably nothing will be decided this month, which will mean the constitutional process will have dragged on far longer than most people wanted or anticipated. I'd be very surprised if Spain and Poland backed off their insistence on the Nice voting arrangement, which would give them a lot more power. Given small countries' hostility to the stability pact decision, it's also looking more likely, that there's going to be one commissioner per country, which is both a good thing (more power for the nations) and a bad thing (an extremely unweildly European Commission).

But don't take my word for any of this.

Oh -- just by the way, on the comments page for Slate piece of mine that went up Wednesday, I was chuffed that two readers wrote that my original "Rhineland" comparison was better than the correction. Original: "To read Le Monde, you'd think Germany had just re-occupied the Rhineland." Correction: "To read Le Monde, you'd think Germany had just re-occupied Paris." The correction sort of makes me look foolish, as though I don't know where the Rhineland is (um, along the Rhine?) -- but whatever.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Hey! I've been invited to guest blog for a week onA Fistful of Euros, which is hands down the best name even invented for a blog. (A Fistful of Euros, by the way, was briefly the name for a teen Euro road movie filmed in Prague earlier this year. I have no idea why they dropped the title.)

Anyway, here's my first post. It's already generated a little discussion, dovetailing nicely with a lengthy discussion about European nation states on Reason's Hit & Run, which started when Matt Welch picked up my link to Vaclav Klaus's ridiculous UPI interview and threw in a comment similar to mine.

By the way, which is more outrageous? That Klaus compares Eurocracy with Communism? Or that he considers this "new form of collectivism" a greater threat to Europe than Al Qaeda itself?
I'm excited to see if Fagan Finder actually works. It's basically the translation engine we've all been waiting for -- everything from Afrikaans to Yiddish. Promises, promises. We'll see. (Link via Europundit.)

In the meantime, here's Matt Welch's recent post on Vaclav Klaus on Reason's Hit & Run blog, which responds to my post below a generated a whole slew of comments, translated into Czech. Enjoy!

Slovan-Laff of èlen urèitý Èas

Vaclav Klaus, hlava architekt of Czechoslovak posta- Komunista napravit, a korumpovaný politický zaseknout, 3sg.préz.od have gotten více milage než nìkdo živ do cooing Hayekian cítìní do èlen urèitý dychtivý doslech of trh- laskavý Západní novináøi, chvíle kroužení asi a dragging jeho feet dále jakýkoliv èíslo of domácí napravit aby chtìl bych ledvinová peèenì jeho politický množství. Lid kdo byli v rozhlase dno ( kašel kašel) mít vØdØl aby Klaus is nicka Thatcherite od té doby asi stredi-1992, ( do 1997 jeho údajnì socialistycký sok Mít mnìl jsem až k handa jemu obec do pomalý dole posta- Komunista obrat) dále ohromivì, èlen urèitý guy's tichý prospìch pryè s ním ono, èásteènì do házení mimo èerveò maso až k èlen urèitý EU = Socialismus dav. Tichý, tato burza s UPI's Arnaud de Borchgrave is jeden mléko- docela- èlen urèitý- nos klasický:

Q--V èlen urèitý koneènì Thatcherite v Evropì, tebe dìlostøelectvo být doma dopis of èlen urèitý politický sjednocení of Evropa tebe myslit až k být nevyhnutelný.

A--JÁ am jeden celek obdivovatel of Kopretina Došek, aby ne má cíl v rozhlase potøebovat až k udržovat èlen urèitý národ stav aèkoliv jeden budova blok do Evropan sjednocení ar ne pøíbuzný až k její. JÁ am pøesvìdèit o tebe dìlostøelectvo mít demokratický vysvìtlitelnost do cokoli bigger než jeden národ stav.

Dobøe, Vaclav, my mamy nìjak been zmotat dál køížem èlen urèitý rybník celek tezaury dlouhá doba. (èlánek, a cítìní, pomocí Skotský MacMillan)
Who does this translation engine think it is? Not even my closest friends call me Skotský.

UPDATE: Czech to English doesn't work at all.
I find it very strange that this page appeared at the top of Google News.
I'm a little bit peeved. In September, when the army chaplain James Yousef Yee was arrested at Guantanamo Bay for alleged spying, I said I suspected the changes might be bogus. I thought I clearly remembered blogging something to the effect -- after all, that's what blogs are for, right? -- but I can't find anyplace I actually said that. So I might have just said it out loud to CNN and my girlfriend.

Anyway, it's looking now like the worst Yee will get hit with is a porn-related change -- that and having sex outside marriage. Yes, you read that correctly. And he's returning to duty. And there's a strange non-spin given to these bare facts by Fox News. (Via TPM.)

Onward Christian soldiers.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Does anybody see almost naked chicks as the background for this blog? I don't, but my friend Vladan does.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

World Press Review - Mohammad Atta - Iraq - Prague Note to self: read that when you have a chance.
BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Prague remembers the way things were: "A stroll through central Prague on the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution reveals a city that has embraced capitalism with gusto...." Just a story I found on BBC about a show on pre-revolution fashion at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague.
Yesterday's Mlada fronta reported on

... corruption among the country's football referees. The paper teamed up with a Czech Television reporter, managing to catch referee Frantisek Krivka accepting five hundred crowns to make sure the right team won a village game. The whole incident was captured on hidden camera, says the paper.

Mr Krivka has admitted taking the bribe, says MLADA FRONTA DNES, but denies influencing the outcome of the match in any way. He said he'd told himself if the right team won, he would keep the money. If the other team won, he would return it. The right team won. Frantisek Krivka adamantly denies any wrongdoing - 'If someone wants to give me money, why shouldn't I accept it?'
Um, riiight...

You know what's even crazier than this guy's story? The fact that he's being totally honest. I bet the guy seriously doesn't think he did anything wrong.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

UPI interview with Czech president: "I am convinced you cannot have democratic accountability in anything bigger than a nation state. "

Then what are the United States?

You've got to hand it to him: Klaus is, if anything, an independent thinker with his own, somewhat uncommon, worldview. Later he says the perception of European "smiles" and dismissal of the war on terror is "is more a reflection of American anti-Europeanism than European anti-Americanism." Then he says the biggest threat to Europe is not terrorism but rather "the trap of a new form of collectivism." Link via Prague Monitor.